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A woman is exiting a door in the middle of a shady forest. There is sunlight shining through the trees.

Shedding Some Light on TED

When I first started experiencing the symptoms of thyroid eye disease (TED), I was not quite sure what was happening. My eyes were itchy, red, and very watery. I would catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror or a photo and notice that my left eye was bulging. All of this was pretty sporadic at the beginning. But still I was taking mental notes.

As time and my symptoms progressed I also became irritated by light. Sunlight, office light, even the light from the TV is uncomfortable for me. As a result, it has become increasingly more important for me to pay attention to light, and make some adjustments.

Managing light around me to help my symptoms

At work

I recently retired, but while I was still working, I adjusted the backlight on my computer. I asked the maintenance team if they could take a light bulb out of my office overhead lights.

For me, adding window treatments to block out the sunshine was not an option at work, but I was able to reorient my desk and other workspaces so that sunshine streaming in was less off-putting.

If I was in a meeting where the lights or screens were too bright, I would wear my sunglasses. I know that sounds silly, but it had become essential for me to be able to do my job.


At home, I have found it a bit easier to manage the light. There I am in full control of window treatments and lighting. However, what became more difficult was finding things I could do that did not require bright lighting.

I was forced to get creative. For example, it is necessary to have good lighting for cooking. So, I have found that under cabinet lights help illuminate the work surface without shining into my eyes directly.

I enjoy reading. Having a soft overhead light or lamp off to the side, and using a book light to shine directly on the book seems to help me.

Watching TV at night has become a bit of an issue. I find that looking up at the TV mounted on the wall is difficult, but streaming the show onto an iPad on my lap is better. And I can adjust the backlight on that device.


I enjoy walking and other outdoor activities. This means having to deal with sunshine which presents a whole host of new challenges for my eyes. I find that going in and out of sunshine is most disturbing. So when my walking path goes in and out of shade, this is not ideal. Even if I wear my baseball cap and sunglasses, sometimes it is just too much. I have found that walking on paths that are either completely tree lined and shady, or in total sunshine, works best for me. And I always keep my sunglasses and baseball cap at the ready. When my eyes are particularly sensitive to light, I may even choose to wait for a cloudy day to enjoy the outdoors.

Shedding light on managing TED symptoms

Dealing with the symptoms of thyroid eye disease, for me, sometimes means thinking outside the box about maintaining a level of comfort. When light gets in my eyes, finding ways to ease the discomfort can be difficult, but it is so very important. Keeping a quality of life while enduring the symptoms of TED helps me get through.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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